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Canada’s main stock index posts biggest gains in 3 years

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Canada’s main stock index posted its strongest four-day gain in three years Wednesday as it was propelled by a large increase in the price of crude oil and the Bank of Canada’s latest rate announcement.

The Toronto Stock Exchange continued its rebound from a dreadful autumn and tough December helped by positive news about the trade dispute between China and the U.S. and minutes from the Federal Reserve confirming its patience about raising interest rates, says Anish Chopra, managing director with Portfolio Management Corp.

“A fantastic four-day stretch,” he said in an interview.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 199.58 points to 14,804.73 in a broad-based rally that saw all sectors rise. It was the third day of triple-digit gains so far this year and the best four-consecutive day performance since January 2016.

‘A lot more optimism’

“There seems to be a lot more optimism about a U.S.-China trade deal and when it comes to Federal Reserve interest rate hikes it appears to be that they’ll take a pause,” Chopra said referring to minutes released from the central bank and recent comments from several bank governors.

The cannabis-heavy health care sector rose by 6.25 per cent as Canopy Growth Corp. surged 13.3 per cent, while Aurora Cannabis Inc. and Aphria Inc. gained 7.3 and 6.2 per cent respectively.

The key energy sector followed, with financials, industrials and materials also rising.

Financial and energy stocks were the biggest gainers on the day led by Sun Life Financial Inc., Royal Bank of Canada, Manulife Financial and Suncor Energy Inc. Meanwhile, BCE Inc. and Nutrien Ltd. lost ground while Imperial Oil and TransCanada Corp. posted small gains.

The energy sector was helped again by crude oil prices, which rose on Saudi Arabia’s energy minister reassuring that its oil production and exports are falling sharply. West Texas Intermediate prices are up 23 per cent from its December low.

The February crude contract was up $2.58 US at $52.36 per barrel Wednesday and the February natural gas contract was up 1.7 cents at US$2.98 per mmBTU.

Interest rate held

Canada’s financial sector was helped by the Bank of Canada’s decision to hold its key rate at 1.75 per cent while the economy absorbs softness from a 44 per cent drop in oil prices from its October peak.

“The banks tend to be a play on Canadian GDP growth and with the Bank of Canada having a supportive stance to keep the Canadian economy running smoothly that’s certainly positive for the banks,” said Chopra.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 91.67 points at 23,879.12. The S&P 500 index was up 10.55 points at 2,584.96, while the Nasdaq composite was up 60.08 points at 6,957.08.

The Canadian dollar traded at an average of 75.64 cents US compared with an average of 75.23 cents on Tuesday.

The February gold contract was up $6.10 at $1,292 an ounce and the March copper contract was up 0.1 of a cent at US$2.66 a pound.

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Real Estate

Do you know what kind of condo you’re buying?

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(NC) Condominiums can come in all shapes and sizes. But it’s important to know that not all condos are created equal when it comes to warranty coverage.

Whether you’re buying a condominium townhouse, loft-style two-bedroom or a high-rise studio, they are all classified as condominiums if you own your unit while at the same time share access (and the associated fees) for facilities ranging from pools and parking garages to elevators and driveways, otherwise known as common elements.

The most common types of condos are standard condominiums and common elements condominiums. The determination of how a condominium project is designated happens during the planning stage when the builder proposes the project and the municipality approves it.

When you’re in the market to buy, you need to know how your chosen condo is classified because it affects the warranty coverage under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act. Standard condominiums have warranty coverage for units and common elements, but common elements condominiums only have unit coverage.

How could this affect you as the owner? If your condo complex has underground parking and, for example, there are problems with leaks or a faulty door, the condo designation will determine whether there’s warranty coverage.

If your unit is a standard condominium development, then the common elements warranty may cover the repairs. If it’s a common element condominium development, then repairs might have to be covered by the condo corporation’s insurance, which could impact your condo fees or require a special assessment on all the owners.

To avoid surprises, you should have a real estate lawyer review the Declaration and Description attached to your purchase agreement to be sure that you know the designation and boundaries of the unit you’re looking to purchase. Find more information on the types of condos and their coverage at tarion.com.

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5 savvy renovations to make your kitchen look like new

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(NC) The kitchen is the heart and focal point of any home. But if yours is looking a little tired, a few simple renovations can change the feel of the entire space.

Whether you’ve just moved in, have been meaning to update for years or are experiencing life changes, remember that a kitchen uplift doesn’t have to come with a huge price tag. These small-scale projects could be the change your kitchen needs:

  1. Brighten it up.Adding LED lights below your cabinets will brighten your backsplash and counter and provide a warm glow. Place your favourite containers below to act as focal points – those copper canisters that are hiding under the island and the marble coasters you couldn’t resist can now all be on display.
  2. Swap the old with the new.The backsplash is the first thing you see, so replacing it can be enough to give the space a whole new look. Try a unique shape or colour to change things up, like turquoise or patterned tiles, hexagon-shaped tiles or even a full slab of stainless steel.
  3. Rework what you have.People often think new cabinets are necessary for a kitchen reno, but a lot can be done with what you’ve got. Repainting the cabinets and switching out the knobs to chic new handles will do wonders for a makeover.
  4. Don’t hide away.Try adding some open shelving in an unused spot, such as above the sink or window, or next to the cabinets. Display your most beautiful dishes and add some decorative pieces to give the space a modern, airy feel.
  5. Add new materials into the mix.Changing the island to a butcher-block counter adds warmth and practicality.

Taking on a renovation can often feel overwhelming. But if you talk to your contractor about budgeting and spreading out payments through services like The Home Depot Project Loan, it can be easier than you think. The service allows you to finance any home projects, big or small and is available at locations across Canada.

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How to afford a home renovation that fits your life

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(NC) Changing seasons always bring about the desire to update our living spaces. But your life stage and budget can influence what kind of upgrades you can make. Here are some tips to get you started.

Assess the investment. The first step is to gauge how much value your investment will bring, whether you’re looking to sell or grow into a family home. A common misconception among home owners is that all renovations will increase a home’s value; unfortunately, this is not always the case. It’s always a good idea to strategically renovate the space to fit your life plan and goals.

Plan for both long- and short-term value. As a homeowner, it is important to assess what kind of value items can contribute to your life plan. Searching for products that are energy efficient, like an eco-friendly washing machine or water filtration system, can help you save on your monthly bills. A long-term investment, such as hardwood floors or bathroom tiles, can spruce up a living space for years to come. While sometimes this require a larger budget, the project can be both appealing to future buyers and stand the test of time in a family home.

Create a renovation budget. Once you have a clear plan, you’ll need to create a budget to align with your financial goals. Always ensure your budget includes any interest you’ll be paying. Ask multiple sources for competitive quotes.

Use a payment plan. For those high-ticket investment items, consider using a payment plan. Payment solutions such as The Home Depot Project Loan can help with bigger renovations. This allows you to stick to your budgeting goals while using a flexible payment plan to make larger purchases more accessible.

Use DIY to offset costs. In addition to using a payment plan, taking on a few safe and simple renovation projects yourself is an easy way to offset renovation costs. Your local hardware store can help source materials and provide helpful tips to make those do-it-yourself projects, such as refinishing cabinets or sanding old hardwood floors, a breeze.

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